News & Views

Advancing Sustainability in Ground Engineering: Insights from FPS Presentation at GE Sustainability Conference 2023

The Federation of Piling Specialist’s (FPS) Chair John Chick and Dr. Dimitrios Selemetas, Chair of the FPS Sustainability by Design Working Group, presented at the Ground Engineering (GE) Sustainability Conference, held on 21st September 2023, held at the America Square Conference Centre in London.

The joint presentation delved into the advancements in sustainability within the realm of ground engineering, shedding light on thought-provoking concepts,  materials, and innovative practices aimed at reducing the carbon footprint of on-site construction projects.

The FPS Sustainability by Design Working Group has been diligently exploring avenues to enhance sustainability, and one key message emerged from their work: while innovations like new rigs and low-carbon materials are noteworthy, the most significant savings in terms of sustainability often stem from improvements in buildability, conceptualisation, and design efficiency.

During their presentation, John and Dimitrios highlighted the ongoing efforts to transition towards a performance-based design approach for hybrid foundations, where foundation settlement and stiffness take centre stage. This paradigm shift challenges conventional design practices that rely heavily on Ultimate Limit State (ULS) design methods and demands a re-evaluation of the concept of safety factors.

A critical aspect of advancing performance-based design methods is establishing a clear definition of the Serviceability Limit State (SLS) that foundations are designed for. Avoiding overdesign, clarifying the SLS definition for pile settlement, assessing foundation reusability, and truly comprehending performance limits are integral to propelling sustainability in ground engineering projects.

The presentation didn’t stop at redefining foundation design but ventured into the integration of secant wall design with the performance of raft foundations. It emphasised the need to consider foundations holistically, rather than designing individual elements in isolation.

The FPS Sustainability by Design Working Group is on a mission to provide guidance that demonstrates how fundamental engineering principles can lead to efficient designs, translating into cost and carbon savings. Part of this endeavour involves challenging existing specifications, particularly in areas like pile design settlement criteria for performance-based designs, capturing the limit states that are applicable for these foundation systems.

Efficiency in design, improved buildability, and the creation of performance-based specifications are vital in making a substantial difference in sustainability today. This is the vision that the FPS Sustainability by Design Working Group is committed to sharing with the ground engineering industry, as it strives to shape a greener and more sustainable future for construction projects worldwide.

The FPS’s participation in the GE Sustainability Conference 2023 marked a significant milestone in the journey towards more environmentally conscious and sustainable ground engineering practices.